Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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San Francisco Baseball Associates (the Giants) unsuccessfully moved to compel arbitration of the wage and hour claims of Melendez, a security guard employed at AT&T Park. Melendez argued that he and other security guards were employed “intermittingly” for specific assignments and were discharged “at the end of a homestand, at the end of a baseball season, at the end of an inter-season event like a fan fest, college football game, a concert, a series of shows, or other events,” and, under Labor Code section 201, were entitled to but did not receive immediate payment of their final wages upon each “discharge.” The Giants argued that immediate payment was not required because, under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the Giants and the union, Melendez and all such security guards are not intermittent employees but are “year-round employees who remain employed with the Giants until they resign or are terminated pursuant to the CBA.” The Giants argued that the action is preempted by section 301 of the federal Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185(a). The court of appeal affirmed, finding that the dispute is not within the scope of the CBA's arbitration provision but that arbitration is required by section 301. View "Melendez v. San Francisco Baseball Associates" on Justia Law

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Mainstay Business Solutions (Mainstay), a division of the Blue Lake Rancheria Economic Development Corporation, was a tribal government-sponsored entity of Blue Lake Rancheria, a federally recognized Indian tribe. Mainstay operated a temporary staffing business, assigning temporary workers to its clients. It also operated an employee leasing business in which employees of Mainstay’s clients were placed on Mainstay’s payroll and leased back to the clients. The California Self-Insurers’ Security Fund (SISF) assumed the workers’ compensation obligations when Mainstay defaulted on its obligations to self-insure. SISF then sued Mainstay, Mainstay’s clients and others to recover its costs and liabilities. Among other things, the trial court granted SISF’s motion for judgment on the pleadings against Mainstay’s clients. Mainstay’s clients filed a petition for writ of mandate and/or prohibition to challenge the trial court’s order. SISF argued on appeal: (1) writ review was not appropriate because the main issue presented was rendered moot by the enactment of Labor Code section 3701.9. On the merits, Mainstay’s clients argued: (2) SISF’s claim was subject to the exclusive remedy provisions of the Workers Compensation Act and should have been brought before the Workers Compensation Appeals Board; and (3) their agreements with Mainstay in compliance with Labor Code section 3602(d) serve to bar SISF’s civil action. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "American Cargo Express v. Super Ct." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, three Laotian correctional officers, filed suit against the County pursuant to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Government Code section 12900 et seq., while simultaneously pursuing their workers' compensation remedies. Administrative law judges denied plaintiffs' claims in separate workers' compensation proceedings. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment for the County, holding that res judicata barred plaintiffs' claims. The court reasoned that, while workers' compensation was not plaintiffs' exclusive remedy, once they elected to pursue that remedy to a final, adverse judgment instead of insisting on the primacy of their rights under the FEHA, the WCAB became the exclusive forum to recover for their injuries. View "Ly v. County of Fresno" on Justia Law

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Linton drove DeSoto taxicabs, 2008-2012, after submitting his social security number, proof that he was eligible to work in the U.S., his driver’s license, and a DMV printout. Linton signed DeSoto’s 15-page Lease without negotiating any terms. The Agreement disclaims any employment relationship. Either party could cancel with 30 days’ notice, or without notice in the event of a breach. Linton provided a $500 security deposit and attended an orientation. Drivers keep the fares and tips that they receive and pay DeSoto a gate fee of about $100 per day. DeSoto does not require drivers to check in during their shifts but the cabs are equipped with GPS tracking and have recording devices. Linton received a notice of termination after he was accused of obtaining a passenger’s credit card information and making repeated charges on her account. Linton filed a claim with the Labor Commissioner, contending that he had been misclassified as an independent contractor instead of as an employee. The Labor Commissioner concluded that Linton was an employee and assessed wages, interest, and penalties Labor Code 221, 98.1(c), and 203. A trial court concluded Linton was an independent contractor. The court of appeal reversed. The trial court failed to apply a presumption in favor of employment, misapplied precedent, and made “questionable” distinctions in analyzing the facts. View "Linton v. DeSoto Cab Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking civil penalties under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), Lab. Code, 2698, alleging that his employer, Friant, failed to include the last four digits of its employees’ Social Security numbers or employee identification numbers on itemized wage statements, in violation of section 226(a)(7). The trial court granted Friant summary judgment, concluding a plaintiff must do more than show a violation of section 226(a), and must demonstrate that the violation was knowing and intentional. Plaintiff had submitted no evidence to contradict the statement of Friant’s accounting manager that she was not aware the last four digits of employees’ Social Security numbers were not included on employees’ pay stubs. The court declined to address Friant’s alternative argument that plaintiff failed to demonstrate he sustained actual injury as a result of the violation. The court of appeal reversed. Consistent with the PAGA statutory framework and the plain language and legislative history of section 226(e), a plaintiff seeking civil penalties under PAGA for a violation of section 226(a) does not have to satisfy the “injury” and “knowing and intentional” requirements of section 226(e)(1). View "Lopez v. Friant & Associates, LLC" on Justia Law

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Dr. Leah Levi, a neuro-ophthalmologist, appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of her former employer, the Regents of the University of California (Regents), and Dr. Robert Weinreb, the chair of the department of ophthalmology at the University of California, San Diego (University). Levi asserted various causes of action against the Regents and Weinreb related to discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and due process violations. The retaliation claims alleged protected conduct under both California's Whistleblower Protection Act, and Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Levi contended the trial court granted summary judgment based on its mistaken application of the law. The Court of Appeal concluded Levi raised triable issues of fact sufficient to defeat summary judgment on: whether she made a protected disclosure of improper governmental activity or a condition threatening the health and safety of the public to support her CWPA retaliation claim and whether the Regents and Weinreb denied her due process by failing to issue reports on grievances she had filed, failing to provide her notice before reducing her salary and appointment, and failing to provide her an opportunity to cure deficiencies and return to good standing. Accordingly, the Court reversed the trial court's order granting summary judgment and directed the court to grant Weinreb and the Regents' alternative motion for summary adjudication on Levi's remaining causes of action for retaliation under the FEHA, gender discrimination, gender harassment, failure to prevent harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and Tom Bane Civil Rights Act violations. View "Levi v. Regents of the University of Calif." on Justia Law

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Vallejo filed a petition for bankruptcy relief in 2008. Under its existing labor agreement with the Vallejo Police Officers Association (VPOA), the city paid the full premium cost for retirees and employees of any medical plan offered through the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS or PERS) and paid the full premium for other city retirees, so it was subject to the Public Employees’ Medical and Hospital Care Act, Gov. Code, 22750. PEMHCA establishes a minimum level of employer contribution toward medical premiums. The city sought approval from the bankruptcy court to reject its labor agreements. While the motion was pending, VPOA and the city reached an agreement and the city voluntarily dismissed its motion to reject as to the VPOA. Under the 2009 Agreement, health insurance benefits were reduced. After months of negotiations toward a superseding agreement, the city declared an impasse in 2013. VPOA filed suit, alleging that the city was not bargaining in good faith, in violation of the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, Gov. Code, 3500. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of the petition. VPOA did not show its members had a vested right to a full premium; substantial evidence supported findings that the city did not engage in surface bargaining or rush to declare an impasse. View "Vallejo Police Officers Association v. City of Vallejo" on Justia Law

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The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (the Association) brought a grievance on behalf of correctional officer Sammie Gardner, alleging a violation of his rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). The grievance proceeded through the four-step process set forth in the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Association and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Corrections). At the fourth step, a hearing before the Department of Personnel Administration (Department), the Department granted the grievance. When Corrections refused to comply with the Department’s decision, the Association petitioned for a writ of mandate to compel compliance, the enforcement provided for in the MOU. The trial court denied the petition, adopting Correction’s position, first raised in the trial court, that the Department lacked jurisdiction to decide the grievance because the State Personnel Board (SPB) had exclusive jurisdiction over appointments and the employment status of civil service employees and the foundation of the Department’s decision was the finding that Gardner was an employee of Corrections in November 2001. The Association appealed, arguing the grievance at issue was not under the exclusive jurisdiction of the SPB because it was not a merit-based grievance. After its review, the Court of Appeal agreed: the grievance at issue did not implicate the merit principle, set forth in the California Constitution, and therefore the SPB did not have exclusive jurisdiction. The MOU expressly provided that a grievance based on a reemployment USERRA claim, the claim actually decided, be appealed to the Department. Further, by acquiescing in the grievance procedure used, Corrections forfeited any claim that it was the wrong procedure. View "CA Correctional Peace Officers Assn v. Dept. of Corrections" on Justia Law

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For over 20 years, Orlando was employed by Friendship House Association of American Indians, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program providing treatment services to Native Americans. The program’s CEO was also Orlando’s mother-in-law. While Orlando and his wife were experiencing marital difficulties, his wife informed the CEO that Orlando had a gun and was angry at Friendship House employees. The CEO first placed Orlando on leave; after his wife obtained a restraining order, the CEO terminated his employment. Orlando then filed suit under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, Gov. Code, 12940, for wrongful termination, claiming discrimination on the basis of his marital status and that Friendship House had failed to conduct a reasonable investigation before discharging him. The court of appeal affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendant. Orlando failed to establish a prima facie case of marital status discrimination and failed to demonstrate his employer had a duty to investigate. Orlando was an at-will employee and his claim was not predicated on alleged animus toward the married state, itself. View "Nakai v. Friendship House Association of American Indians, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal treated the consolidated appeal as a petition for writ of mandate and reached the merits of the superior court's order compelling arbitration of plaintiff's individual claims and terminating the class claims. The court granted the petition in part, finding plaintiff's cause of action under the Labor Code for Doty Bros.' failure to timely pay wages upon his separation from employment and his unfair competition action based on that alleged statutory violation were not encompassed by the arbitration provision in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The court denied the petition in all other respects, holding that the remaining causes of action were subject to arbitration, and the trial court's termination of the class claims were proper on the ground that the CBA did not authorize classwide arbitration. View "Cortez v. Doty Bros. Equipment Co." on Justia Law